Friday, May 22, 2015

Filip De Coene Mini Explorer WIP

My Filip De Coene Hybrid was one of my favorite knives.  It was also my first custom.  The fit and finish was beyond compare and even now, a dozen or so customs in, it still stands out.


But alas I needed a lock or some kind of blade safety and so when I sold the Hybrid I promised myself that I'd circle back around and get one of Filip's locking blades.  The crown jewel of his knife pattern stable is the Explorer flipper, a titanium knife designed by Antoine Van Looke and based on an ancient fixed blade, not Oldowan old, but very, very old.  Van Looke's own fixed blade has a very rustic look to it, but when translated into De Coene's minimal high tech design aesthetic the result is striking.  The original Explorer was a big knife and I am not a fan of big folders.  So when I talked with Filip I asked him to make me a smaller version, a Mini.  A few years passed and he finally has space on his bench to make me a knife and we start talking.  All of the pictures below are from Filipe.

I am a huge fan of blue, so I wanted blue G10 scales.  I could have opted for carbon fiber, but the weight savings is minimal and bright blue G10 is quite striking.  He gave me the choice of a framelock or a liner lock and I picked a framelock, wanting to keep the knife as slim as possible (and yes, this will be a knife I use and carry).  Finally, unlike the original Explorer Filip designed, I wanted a clip on my because again, this will be a user.  The blade steel is going to be S30V, which is plenty good for me, especially with a heat treat that renders it a bit harder than Chris Reeve's S30V that comes in at 57-59 HRc.  Filip has been very diligent at keeping me up to date with pictures, so I thought I'd share them with you.

Here is a size comparison between the Mini Explorer and the full-sized version of the knife:


Here is a shot of the Mini Explorer in hand alone for scale:

Here the knife is being fitted for its blue G10 scale:


The pivot was something we discussed and ultimately I decided not to go crazy and just get a basic pivot. This is not an ostentatious knife so the pivot is simple:


By opting for the framelock the knife will be relatively thin:


We were going to do an off the shelf clip, but as you can see, it wasn't working:


In the end, despite my aversion to carved clips, the look required it:


Filip isn't a "name" maker in the knife world, but his quality is top notch and his communication and flexibility in the process is amazing.  He doesn't make a ton of knives either, so its hard to get one from him, but the ones that are out there are pretty darn awesome.  I think this one will join those ranks.  Watch my Instagram or Youtube channel for this beauty to land in my possession. 


  1. Why do you hate carved/ milled clips?

  2. This does nothing for me. It very much looks like it was made in a home shop or garage. Why not just buy a Kershaw Leek and call it a life? Not that it's even possible to come out of the box making production quality stuff or that hobbyists aren't important in a community but I don't care to see much coverage devoted to these.

  3. 100% in love with that carved clip, fits the profile of the scales down to a T. I am generally with you the aversion towards carved clips as I find functionality to be inferior to wire clips but this one is pretty damn perfect. Aesthetically at least.

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